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Beyond the New Yorker Festival II: 'The Art of Reportage' at NYU

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Jonathan Taylor writes:

In my last post, I mentioned attractive anniversary readings being put on by New York Review Books Classics. I also want to note another upcoming event at NYU on "literary reportage," which inescapably includes a lot of New Yorker contributors: Alastair Reid, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Lawrence Weschler, Philip Gourevitch, Robert S. Boynton, Eliza Griswold and Elizabeth Rubin. And in addition, Suketu Mehta, author of the awesome Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found.

The October 6–7 symposium takes as its point of departure the renowned, and debated, work of Ryszard Kapuściński, some of which itself appeared in the magazine. This 2007 memoir of his first trip abroad—to India as a reporter for Poland's Sztandar Mlodych (The Banner of Youth) in 1955— is freely readable online.

Full release after the jump:

October 6-7, 2009
NYU's Hemmerdinger Hall
100 Washington Square East
Subway: West 4th: B,C,D,E,F,V; 8th St: R,W; Astor Place: 6.
Free and open to the public on a first come, first-in basis.

This two-day symposium offers an exciting public conversation about
the state of the art of reportage amid a rapidly changing media
landscape, various approaches to and practices of long-form and
literary journalism, and the ongoing legacy of renowned practitioners
like Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuściński. At a time when categorical
differences between fiction and nonfiction are increasingly ambiguous,
and the gap between their respective segments of the publishing market
increasingly small, a discussion of reportage as a literary art form
is paramount.

This free public program is being co-sponsored by the Polish Cultural
Institute in New York, the National Book Critics Circle, the New York
Institute for the Humanities at NYU, and the Literary Reportage
concentration of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at NYU, in
association with the Overseas Press Club of America and Words without
More information: http://www.PolishCulture-NYC.org


October 6-7, 2009
NYU's Hemmerdinger Hall
100 Washington Square East


Panel I: The Art of Reportage: On the Ground and On the Page
5:00 PM-7:00 PM

How does narrative arise from reportage? What transformation occurs
during the writing process? Answers from journalists who combine
investigative skills and literary craft.

Jane Ciabattari, Moderator, is President of the National Book Critics
Circle and a member of the Executive Board of the Overseas Press Club.
Her reporting from abroad and cultural criticism have appeared in the
New York Times, The Guardian online, npr.org, Bookforum, the
Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Columbia Journalism Review.

Joshua Clark is author of Heart Like Water: Surviving Katrina and Life
in Its Disaster Zone (2007 National Book Critics Circle award
finalist). He has worked as a correspondent for NPR and Salon.com.

Eliza Griswold is author of The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the
Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam (FSG, forthcoming 2010), a
New America Fellow, and a 2010 Rome Fellow at the American Academy in
Rome. Her reportage has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper's and the
New Republic.

Arif Jamal is author of The Shadow War: The Untold Story of Jihad in
Kashmir (Melville House, 2009). Former contributing writer to the New
York Times, he is a fellow at the Center on International Cooperation
at New York University.

Elizabeth Rubin, a recent Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council
on Foreign Relations, is a contributing writer for the New York Times
Magazine. Her award-winning reportage from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan,
Saudia Arabia, Russia, the Caucasus, the Middle East, Africa, and the
Balkans has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, the New Republic,
Harper's, and the New Yorker.

Paweł Smoleński is author of 7 books in Polish, including Burial of a
Butcher, on tensions between Poles and Ukrainians, and Hell in
Paradise, on post-Saddam Iraq. He received a 2005 Kurt Schork Award in
International Journalism from Columbia University's Journalism School.

Panel II: Literary Reportage Between Self and Other, Fact and Fiction
7:30 PM-9:00 PM

If a strictly objective take is self-evidently impossible, what sort
of warrant as to strict veracity ought the reader expect from the
creator of long-form narrative nonfiction? To what extent, if any,
ought that writer's vantage be grounded in a personal "I" voice, and
to what extent does even that commitment shade into a sort of

Lawrence Weschler, Moderator, is concurrently Director of the New York
Institute for the Humanities at NYU and Artistic Director of the
Chicago Humanities Festival, and the author of over a dozen books,
including The Passion of Poland, Calamities of Exile, and Everything
That Rises: A Book of Convergences (2007 National Book Critics Circle
Award winner).

Wojciech Jagielski is the author of 4 books in Polish, including Night
Wanderers (2009), about child soldiers in Uganda, and, in English
translation, Towers of Stone: The Battle of Wills in Chechnya (Seven
Stories, October 2009).

Adrian Nicole LeBlanc is author of Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble
and Coming of Age in the Bronx (2003, NBCC finalist), a 2006 MacArthur
Fellow, and a visiting scholar at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism

Suketu Mehta is author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found (2004),
a 2007 Guggenheim Fellow, and Associate Professor in the Literary
Reportage concentration of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute
at NYU.

Alastair Reid is an eminent poet, longtime New Yorker correspondent
from Spain, Scotland, and Latin America, one of the foremost
translators of the work of both Pablo Neruda and Jorge Luis Borges,
and a fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities.

Panel III: Kapuściński's Legacy in the 21st Century
6:30 PM-8:30 PM

Ryszard Kapuściński was one of the most celebrated, albeit
controversial journalists of the last fifty years, a gorgeous stylist
and a rhapsodic, if at times not strictly reliable, witness. To what
extent is the kind of reportage he engaged in even possible today?
What lessons can the next generation of writers draw from his

Robert S. Boynton, Moderator, is Director of NYU's new Literary
Reportage concentration, former Senior Editor at Harper's, and author
of The New New Journalism (2005).

Anna Bikont is a senior writer and co-founder of Poland's leading
daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, author of We, People from Jedwabne
(2004; English translation forthcoming from Yale Univ. Press), and a
2008-09 Cullman Center fellow at the NYPL, where she was researching a
biography of Ryszard Kapuściński.

Ted Conover is the author of Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing (2001
National Book Critics Circle Award winner), a 2003 Guggenheim Fellow,
and Distinguished Writer in Residence at NYU's Arthur L. Carter
Journalism Institute.

Klara Glowczewska is Editor in Chief of Condé Nast Traveler, the only
travel publication to win a National Magazine Award, translator of
three of Ryszard Kapuściński's books, including Travels With Herodotus
(2007). She is a member of the Executive Board of the Overseas Press

Philip Gourevitch is Editor in Chief of The Paris Review, a longtime
staff writer at the New Yorker, and author of We Wish to Inform You
That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families (1998 National Book
Critics Circle Award and Overseas Press Club Award) and, with Errol
Morris, of The Ballad of Abu Ghraib (2008).


Interesting topics! If I lived closer to New York City, I would definitely take in this symposium. I love The New Yorker, particularly its great journalism. I read it not only for its content, but also for the enjoyment of its writing purely as writing. Sometimes I wish Emdashes would focus more on the magazine’s journalism. I would love to see the type of close stylistic analysis that Pollux applies to the covers extended to include one or two pieces of each issue’s reportage. It’s the art of compositions such as Tad Friend’s “Plugged In,” Nick Paumgarten’s “Useless Beauty,” Lauren Collins’s “Check Mate,” and James B. Stewart’s “Eight Days” – to name four great recent stories - that I would like to get at. Because – make no mistake – it is art!

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